In our previous blog Time management tips for inbound business phone calls, we shared some techniques for saving time and money on telephone calls that you might not be expecting. But what about those calls that you need to make and not waste time while making them? Managing your outgoing business calls is just as important and managing your incoming calls; it just takes some different techniques. It is too easy to find yourself wasting time making calls to clients, suppliers and associates – especially when you have multiple numbers to reach them at and just as many voice mails that you need to leave to get a hold of them. This is further complicated when you do not have the right number when you are away from your office.
1. Keep your contacts centralized and available wherever you are.
There are a vast number of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools that can keep all the data you need on your customers, but what about your other contacts? Good CRM’s can also share contact information with your mobile device that also has your other business contacts. Google contacts is a great way to have all the numbers you need with the ability to be updated from anywhere, including on a smartphone.
2. Plan your call before you dial the number.
Having a plan for each call you intend to make will keep you on track and accomplish the goals of the call. The last thing you need to have to do is to make a subsequent call to cover a topic that you forgot to mention in the original call. This means actually having some notes written down with the intentions of the call and the points or topics that need to be discussed.
3. Know who you are calling.
If you are calling someone that you do not often call and do not have a regular rapport with, have some notes of who they are that are both business and personal.
4. When faced with a voice mail, be concise and clear on your reasons for the call.
Yes, it is simple to leave just your name and number, but if the receiver of your voice mail does not have any context for your call, there is a good chance he or she may not return it – or when they do, you will waste time getting them up to speed. Be concise in your voicemail. State your name, business name, phone number and the reason for the call. This will allow them to be prepared when they return your call.
5. If you require them to call you back, make it easy for them.
Whether you make live contact with the person you are calling or not, if the call is that important, do not let them end up in your voice mail. This might be letting your receptionist know that you are expecting a call back from a certain party, and that they should make sure that you get the call. Or it could mean leaving a direct-line number or a cellphone number you can be reached at.
6. Try to schedule all your outgoing calls at a certain time of day.
Pick a block of time during your day and set it aside for making outgoing calls and plan and estimate how long each call should take. Sometimes it is even better to set aside a certain day for a particularly high number of calls. Mondays might be set aside for cold calls, Tuesdays could be for customer service calls, Wednesdays could be for supplier and contractor calls, and Thursdays could be for follow-up calls.
These are just a few tips that will help you manage the time you spend on outgoing business calls. The more control you have over your business calls, the better you can manage your time on other important business tasks.